The Legend of Zelda

From Academic Kids

This article is about the first game in the series. For information on the series as a whole, see The Legend of Zelda series.

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The Legend of Zelda
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The cover art for the US version of The Legend of Zelda

Developer(s) Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Release date(s) 1986, 1987
Genre Action Adventure
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ESRB: E (2004 NES Classics re-release)
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System, GameCube, Game Boy Advance

The Legend of Zelda was the first game in The Legend of Zelda series of video games, made by Nintendo under the direction of game creator Shigeru Miyamoto, who also created Mario. The game was inspired by Miyamoto's imaginary adventures in the hills of Kyoto, Japan as a young child. It was released on the Japanese Famicom system in February 1986 and its western equivalent on the NES in 1987. The music including the classic Zelda theme was composed by Koji Kondo.

The game is set in the imaginary land of Hyrule and revolves around a young Hylian named Link, who must rescue Princess Zelda from the clasps of the villain Ganon by collecting eight pieces of an item known as the Triforce of Wisdom.

The game was included in The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition for the Nintendo GameCube. In 2004, Nintendo re-released the original Legend of Zelda for the Game Boy Advance, as part of the Classic NES Series.



Its gameplay defied categorization at its time of release, incorporating elements from action-adventure games, role-playing games, and puzzles. The game was one of the most successful of its time, selling 6.5 million copies.

Zelda featured many technical innovations as well. Its cartridge was the first to feature a battery that allowed the player to save his progress across multiple sessions with the game (previous games used passwords, often long and complicated). In addition, the plastic casing of the cartridge was gold just like the box instead of the usual gray, making it seem special from the very beginning. It was later re-released in a gray cartridge in 1990.

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Link, carrying all of the many and varied items he acquires in the course of his quest.

The first Zelda appears relatively simple by today's standards, but it was a very advanced game for its day. Innovations included the ability to use dozens of different items, a vast world full of secrets to explore, and the freedom of relatively nonlinear gameplay. Many of these innovations became staples of the Zelda series and other games which followed its lead. The game was wildly popular in Japan and the United States, and many consider it one of the most important videogames ever made.

Zelda is also considered one of the spiritual forerunners of the console role-playing game (CRPG) genre. Even though it contains gameplay elements different from those of a typical computer or console RPG, its aesthetics, such as its bright, cartoony graphics, fantasy setting, and music, would be adopted by a number of later RPGs, and its commercial success helped create a market for involved, nonlinear games in fantasy settings, such as those found in successful CRPGs.

Some RPGs that have been compared to Zelda include Square's Seiken Densetsu series, and more recently, Alundra and Brave Fencer Musashi.

Game overview

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The Legend of Zelda title screen

The game begins with the player controlling Link armed with a small shield. A simple sword is immediately available in a cave behind him. To advance further, Link must explore the overworld, a large outdoor map with a variety of environments, fighting an assortment of small creatures in order to locate the entrances to nine underground dungeons. Each dungeon is a unique, labyrinthian collection of rooms connected by doors and secret passages and guarded by a variety of monsters, all of which are different from those found in the overworld. Link must navigate through each dungeon to obtain the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom along with other useful items, many of them necessary to complete his quest. For example, the third dungeon contains a raft which is needed to reach the entrance to the fourth dungeon. Other available items include upgrades for Link's sword and shield, bombs for uncovering secret caverns, and a recorder with magical properties. The first six dungeons have visible entrances, but the remaining three are hidden from view. The order of completing the dungeons is relatively arbitrary, but the ninth and final dungeon can only be entered after collecting the entire Triforce of Wisdom.

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Link (figure in green at right) battling in the Overworld.

Nonlinearity, the ability to take different paths in completing the game, is an important element of Zelda which was largely absent in its contemporaries. Although the dungeons were designed to be completed in order, there are many possible orders. Similarly, Link can wander the overworld, finding and buying items at any point. This flexibility enabled some unusual ways of playing the game; for example, it's possible to reach the final boss of the game without taking a sword, which in a normally-played game is the preferred primary weapon. Nonlinearity is also a source of frustration, however, often leaving players wondering what to do next.

Dungeon Bosses

A dragon/unicorn-like boss that has appeared in a few Legend of Zelda games. It attacks in a variety of ways. One, it can shoot fire out of its mouth. Two, it can charge around the room at an extraordinary pace. Finally, it can fly around the room while breathing fire. The beast towers over most humans, and can only be killed if its horn is cut off.

A rhinoceros/dinosaur enemy that appears in the second dungeon of the quest. The easiest way to kill it is to feed it bombs; in fact, the Old Man will give you the hint "Dodongo dislikes smoke." Another way is to stun it with a bomb, then attack with the sword. The Dodongo has appeared in many later Legend of Zelda games.

A large carnivorous plant that speeds around the room whenever a head is taken off. A single hit from a bomb will dispatch it, as well as a few swats from a sword or arrows, for those who dislike proximity.

A dragon with two, three or four fire-breathing heads that will travel about the room after being severed by the sword or the wand.

An orange sea urchin-like creature that resembles a buzzsaw, Digdogger hates noise. Playing the Recorder will shrink Digdogger into one or more mini Digdoggers, which may then be dispatched with the sword.

A large spider with one eye. That eye is the key to victory as well, since you must fire arrows into the eye to kill Gohma. One direct hit will kill the spider, but the eye must be open for this to work. Gohma moves left and right, but when reaching the center of the room, will move back and forth. Like the Dodongo, it has made many appearances in future Legend of Zelda games.

A swarm of flying eyeballs, which appears as a miniboss in the final dungeon. The swarm consists of a large "queen" at the center, and a ring of smaller "drones". As the queen moves about at random, the drones circle about it, periodically rotating or expanding and contracting. The queen is invulnerable until the drones are all destroyed.

See main article: Ganon


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Story as described by the game itself in the intro. The translation quality is typical of the game, which luckily contained very little text.

The nine dungeons that a player must traverse to complete the game each have the shape of an easily recognizable object (eagle, lion's head, snake, etc.) which make them easier for the astute gamer to navigate. The third labyrinth has the shape of what appears to Western audiences as a left-facing swastika. This shape is actually a "manji", which is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune. In Japan, where this game was initially released, swastikas and similar shapes are relatively benign, which explains why a symbol so offensive to many Western audiences could be included. In the United States, there were surprisingly few complaints about the manji, but years later, when Pokémon became popular in the United States, Nintendo was forced to alter one of the cards due to complaints regarding a manji.

The second quest

This was accessible in several ways. For the cartridge version, once the game was completed (or by using a secret code, entering "ZELDA" as your character's name), the player could play through the "second quest". In the Japanese disk version, the player simply flipped the disk and put it in the other way around to play the second quest; this second side was labelled "Ura Zelda" (裏ゼルダ), meaning "Flip Side Zelda".

The basic overworld map is unchanged, but the locations and layout of the dungeons is completely different, and most of the items and secrets are in different places than before. For example, only two of the nine dungeons now have visible entrances, and the fifth dungeon is where the fourth dungeon used to be. In this regard, the second quest is much more difficult than the first. While a more difficult "replay" was not an innovation unique to The Legend of Zelda, few games offered a "second quest" with entirely different levels to complete. This added a great deal to the replay value of the game.

The third quest?

A modified version with updated graphics, a smaller overworld, and completely different dungeons, known as BS Zelda, was released in 1995 for the Satellaview, the Super Famicom's Japanese-only satellite-based addon. Several Japanese sources allude to this as being intended as a "third quest", much like The second quest (above). When the game was rebroadcast in 1996 they changed the dungeons (and probably the overworld as well); this revision apparently had a smaller broadcast audience and is known only as "~map2~". This second map could well be thought of as a "fourth quest". Additionally, Link was replaced by the Satellaview mascots, a boy and a girl; the girl had red hair while the boy wore a backwards baseball cap. also, there are other downloadable quests in Zelda Classic.


External links

fr:The Legend of Zelda

it:The Legend of Zelda no:The Legend of Zelda sv:The Legend of Zelda


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